Amazon broke a long-held precedent Saturday by revealing viewership data for a Prime Video series for the first time ever, making the exception on remaining tight-lipped about its internal TV ratings for its big-budget “The Lord of the Rings” TV series.
According to the e-commerce giant, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” was viewed by 25 million viewers globally over the initial 24 hours that the TV series’ first two episodes were available for streaming on Prime Video in 240 countries and territories.
Amazon’s “The Rings of Power” debuted globally Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, depending on what territory and time zone Prime customers were streaming from across the world. The first two episodes dropped at 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET Thursday.
In its release announcing the “Rings of Power” premiere viewership, Amazon did not specify how it measures a view, nor how much of an episode a user needs to watch to count as a viewer.
With Amazon never before releasing numbers for a Prime Video series and only Nielsen’s Top 10 streaming data for popular series like “Reacher” and “The Boys” to use as a third-party benchmark for success for the streamer, it’s hard to say just how big of a hit “The Rings of Power” is for Prime Video. However, Amazon said Saturday that “Rings of Power’s” performance broke “all previous records, marking the biggest premiere in the history of Prime Video.”
Though a fair comparison is nearly impossible to draw here based on self-reported metrics on Amazon’s part and a combo of Nielsen and proprietary streaming data on HBO and HBO Max’s side, the TV industry at large is bound to compare the “Rings of Power” premiere with the U.S. launch of HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” which premiered to a record-breaking nearly 10 million viewers Aug. 21 and grew its viewership by 2% with its second episode Aug. 28 (global figures were not disclosed). The “Game of Thrones” prequel has been pitted against the “Lord of the Rings” series since well before either debuted within two weeks of each other.
“It is somehow fitting that Tolkien’s stories – among the most popular of all time, and what many consider to be the true origin of the fantasy genre – have led us to this proud moment,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement provided by Amazon along with the “Rings of Power” viewership numbers. “I am so grateful to the Tolkien Estate – and to our showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, executive producer Lindsey Weber, cast and crew – for their tireless collaborative efforts and boundless creative energy. And it is the tens of millions of fans watching – clearly as passionate about Middle-earth as we are – who are our true measure of success.”
Costing a reported $465 million for its first season alone, with a second season already in the works at Amazon, the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work follows 23 series regulars during the lesser-known story of the Second Age of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
Though “The Rings of Power” premiere has received much attention, it hasn’t all been positive. Amazon’s ‘The Lord of the Rings” series appears to have been review bombed — a practice involving bad-faith users flooding intentionally negative reviews for a show or film — on sites like Rotten Tomatoes, where it has an 84% rating from professional critics, but a 35% from user-submitted reviews. (“The Rings of Power” has specifically faced backlash from some people who take issue with the decision to cast actors of color as elves, dwarves, harfoots and other folk of Tolkien’s fictional Middle-earth.)
As Variety reported Friday, Prime Video user reviews of “The Rings of Power” are being held by Amazon for the first 72 hours post launch, a delay implemented across the board for all Prime Video series earlier this summer that began around the time of the launch of “A League of Their Own.” The new procedure involves a hold that allows for reviews to be evaluated to determine whether they were created by a bot or troll.